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introduction to THE PRACTICE OF AWARENESS
In robbing us of time, today’s culture also robs us of dignity. But dignity has no great value in a culture devoted to progress, power and productivity. Since time is money in modern culture, few of us can afford dignity.
world faces a grave economic, ecological, cultural crisis – indeed a global
civilisational crisis. The
word ‘crisis’ means a ‘turning point’ in time. The basic need expressed in this
crisis however, is to find a way of
Being-in-Time and Being-in-the-World
that is no longer dominated by ‘busy-ness’ - by doing – and aimed only at
having. The new relation to time that
human beings so desperately need at this time is one in which they give
themselves time, not just to produce or consume, work or play – but to truly
be. That means giving themselves time to
Be Aware. For to truly ‘be’ is to
Be Aware. Just as to truly ‘meditate’ is simply to take time to be aware,
and to abide in awareness. Only out of a
deeper, more meditative awareness can come better decisions and deeper more
thoughtful solutions to world problems. Only by taking time to
be aware can people learn to be and
relate to others in a more meditative and aware way – thus transforming human
relations. And only through meditative awareness can important decisions,
whether in personal life, business, management or government be properly
pre-meditated, taken with full awareness of all there is to be aware of. All
and mistreatment of others
stem from the self-defeating rush of busy-ness, from believing one has
no time to be aware – whereas in fact it
is the very culture of busy-ness that slows down and delays aware, effective and
empathic action. All the business powers of this world conspire to keep us busy
in an unaware way - forcing us to sell our time to them in the service of
ever-more productive and mind-numbing ‘labour’. In return they sell us ever-more
mind-numbing products - and equate ‘quality time’ with the purchase and
consumption of these products. Yet the global business culture of enforced
economic conscription, speed and busy-ness also expresses a deep-seated fear
of awareness – not least an unwillingness to be fully aware of all the ways
in which, lacking awareness, human beings are currently destroying each other
and the earth. This civilisational crisis and turning point in time tells us –
it is high time for humanity to Be Aware.
Bhairava [Shiva] is he whose light shines in the minds of those yogis who are intent on assimilating time into the eternal present of awareness…
Only by giving oneself time to Be Aware can we come to dwell in an expanded space of awareness, an awareness that can embrace our experience of ourselves, other people and the sensory world around us. Only through dwelling in this expanded space of awareness can we maintain awareness of more than one thing at the same timE - more than one aspect of ourselves and others, more than one thing or thought, more than one feeling or voice within us, more than one choice before us.
‘Time’ is the very space of awareness, more or less expanded or contracted, that we feel within the Moment.
‘Space’ is the very time we give ourselves to expand the spaciousness of the awareness we feel within the Moment.
Without giving ourselves time to Be Aware, the space of our awareness is contracted to a single focus and we lose a sense of the expansive field of awareness in which we dwell.
We become like dwellers in a spacious ocean - dwellers so used to just focussing their awareness on one thing or another within that ocean that they have ceased to be aware of the ocean as such – no longer seeing it, sensing it or even surmising its existence. Without the ocean, we could observe and study none of the beings that dwell within it – nor would they exist. Similarly, without space or time, we could be aware of nothing – ‘no thing’ - within them. Awareness, like space and time, is the precondition for our experience of any thing whatsoever – and for their very existence or being.
Time, the ‘4th’ dimension, has an inside. 3-dimensional space is our physical experience of that insideness of time – the spacious insideness of the moment. Just as there is nothing ‘outside’ awareness, so there is nothing we can experience ‘outside’ the moment - understood as the entire awareness field of our immediate experiencing. All thoughts about past and future actions and events arise within this field - as elements of our immediate, present experiencing within the moment. The ‘insideness’ of time is the expansive inwardness of the moment - a time-space embracing all three dimensions of space. If we let thoughts and feelings focussed on the past or future take us away from the spacious field of our here-and-now sensory experiencing then we truly get ‘lost in time’. Indeed just thinking of past and future events as if they were moment ‘points’ on a one-dimensional line of time - preceding or following a point that we call the ‘present’ moment - is to forget that there is nothing outside the moment - no point or period of time that it does not or cannot embrace within it. If, even ‘for a moment’ therefore, we forget that all our thoughts and feelings about past and future events are part of our immediate experiencing within the moment, then we cease to experience the true nature of the present moment itself - not as a point on a line of time but as an expansive 3-dimensional time-space embracing all possible past and future events and moment points within it.
Within the spacious
moment we can
and do shift the
of our awareness, both temporally and spatially – for example focussing on
different objects or activities in space, or on what we think of as ‘past’ and
‘future’ events. ‘Linear’ time itself however, is nothing but the illusion that
arises whenever we shift the
of our awareness, but do so without continuing to feel the entire
these shifts of focus occur. For then our whole experience of time becomes
one-dimensional - reduced to an experience of intervals or periods on a ‘line’
of time stretched out between
– different concentration points or foci of awareness.
Space is more than just physical space. It is the time-space or temporality of our awareness. Yet many people’s awareness of time is so contracted to specific foci - whether in the past, present or future - that it lacks any spaciousness even in 2 dimensions. Instead it is reduced to a series of points on a 2-dimensional line. Alternatively, the two-dimensional plane or three-dimensional ‘volume’ of their temporal awareness may take the form of bloated regions or bubbles of time in the past or future, regions which are more or less cut off from one another and from the individual’s area of present awareness. The diagram below represents different people’s temporal awareness in the form of 2-dimensional areas within a larger, circular ‘event horizon’. The horizontal axis within the event horizon is time as we usually conceive it - a line from birth to death. The circular or elliptical regions within the event horizon are examples of the countless different ‘shapes’ that temporal awareness can take in 2 dimensions. Any person’s time-space field may be more or less spaciously expanded or contracted, embrace more or less of their past and future, and be more or less oriented towards past or future. Indeed some people’s times-space may be centred at a point in or even ‘off’ the conventional time line, just as its centre and/or area may reach beyond the apparent ‘event horizon’ of birth and death (grey-shaded shapes). How would you draw the shape of your time-space?
The traditional aim of
yoga has been ‘liberation’ (‘Moksha’ / ‘Mukti’) from the reincarnational wheel
or ‘circle’ (‘Chakra’) of time – the cycle of birth and re-birth. Life as lived
in the physical plane is in one-dimensional time - experienced as a linear
sequence of moment points, and also perceived as part of a linear series of
incarnations – the cycle of birth and rebirth. Life as experienced in the
‘after-life’ and ‘inter-life’ is life lived
the unbounded and all-embracing time-space of the moment. It is liberation from
linear time, a liberation that Tantric practices also aimed to achieve in this
very life (‘Jivanmukti’), through taking our awareness across the apparent
threshold of awareness we call ‘death’. ‘Dying’, in its true essence is not a
point or process in linear time, but the very process of
from being in time to being or dwelling in the spacious present, - the unbounded
inner time-space of the moment. Symptoms of aging and ‘dementia’ such as memory
loss or loss of time-orientation simply reflect the essential nature of this
transition. The temporal awareness of souls who have crossed the threshold is a
time-space that can expand to embrace both past, present and future lives,
selves and events. Those who experience the reality that ‘the moment has no
outside’ in this life, who can expand their temporal awareness in tandem with
the spatial expanse of their awareness, are no longer ‘alive’ in the ordinary
sense, but have re-linked with that self – their eternal soul or Awareness Self,
which is ‘already dead and not yet born’ - albeit not in terms of linear time as
experienced by the physical self in the life between birth and death. Higher
consciousnesses or ‘Oversouls’ are indeed truly
beings, beings whose temporal awareness within the moment
can span not
only multiple lives, actual and potential, but whole epochs of historical time.
That Entity or Oversoul whose immediate temporal awareness has a
trans-historical character -
entire history of humankind is the ‘Christ’ entity. It is one of a number of
entities – ‘gods’ - whose incarnations serve to facilitate corrective
interventions in the historical maturation of human awareness across the epochs
– including our own.
Giving ourselves time to be means giving ourselves time to Be Aware – aware of all that there is to be aware of, all there is to sense and feel, experience and explore, enjoy and delight in, process and ponder, recollect and anticipate, delve into and draw insight from in the present moment.
The root meaning of ‘to be’ is ‘to dwell or abide’. The meaning of yoga ‘meditation’ in The New Yoga is not simply something to be ‘done’ now and then at some specific time.
On the contrary, it means constantly giving ourselves time to be aware - to ‘dwell’ or ‘abide’ in awareness. From Being Aware comes the ability to Be or ‘dwell’ in awareness. From Being Aware and Being-in-Awareness comes the ability to fully identify with the awareness in which we dwell – to Be Awareness.
We dwell within awareness as we dwell within space. The experience of Being Awareness is comparable to identifying with the space we sense within and around us, experiencing it as a unified and singular space of awareness. It is this that leads to a new experience of space itself as the inner spaciousness of the present moment.
The New Yoga is a radical departure from all traditional, modern and New Age yoga practices whose focus lies on stretching and contorting our physical bodies. Its purpose instead is to stretch (‘tan’) and guard (‘tra’) awareness. That is why it is ‘tan-tra’ in the truest sense. ‘Meditation’ in The New Yoga is not an effortful Buddhistic practice of seeking to ‘empty’ the mind of thoughts.
For awareness, whilst no ‘thing’, is not an empty nothingness but the spacious field of our immediate experiencing. Being-in-Awareness allows us to affirm and become even more intensely aware of every thought and thing, sensation and feeling, conception and perception, word and image - but without becoming bound to or identified with it.
You may be aware – sometimes, often or all the time, of so-called ‘negative’ feelings - feeling as if ‘it’s all too much’ or you can’t ‘cope’, feeling joyless or depressed, bored or fed up, even to the point of being tired of living or wanting to die. You may sometimes be aware of thinking so-called negative thoughts about yourself - thinking that you are bad or mad, unworthy or incapable, a failure or disappointment to yourself or others. You may also be aware of feeling and thinking about others in ‘negative’ ways – for example feeling or thinking that they do not really see you, that they dislike or hate you, are ignoring or avoiding you, judging or attacking you. You may be aware too of thinking that your life situation is hopeless - that there is absolutely nothing you can do to change it or change the way you feel.
To obtain relief or feel better you may seek to
to change things, yet are aware that your actions will change nothing. Yet even
if there is
change things or to feel different – you still have a fundamental choice. That
choice applies whether the thoughts, feelings or life situation you are aware of
are ‘negative’, ‘positive’, or a mixture of both. This choice however, has
nothing whatsoever to
do with things that you can or cannot
do to change whatever it is you are
aware of - for example choosing to repress or run away from it, to blame and
attack yourself or others for it, to fight it or resign yourself to it,
to ‘live with it’ or to kill yourself because of it.
The fundamental choice has to do with
being, not with
And whilst a seemingly simple choice, it is in essence the most fundamental and
profound choice each and all of us can make - at any time, in any
situation, whatever it is we are aware of thinking or feeling, and whatever we
are aware of thinking and feeling about ourselves, other people, our life as a
whole or the world as a whole. The choice is simply this: to lose ourselves in
unaware identification with whatever
‘it’ is we are
- or, alternatively, to give ourselves
all the time
WE need to stay with and
actively identify with
awareness of it.
The New Yoga is founded on a fundamental ethical choice – a commitment to always and first-of-all give ourselves Time to Be Aware. Only out of this commitment can we make the fundamental choice to identify with awareness - rather than losing our awareness in the very things we are aware of.
A motto of The New Yoga is - “If there’s nothing you can do, don’t do anything” – except to Be Aware, abiding in the awareness of all that you sense within and around you, whether ‘positive’ or ‘negative’.
If we are unknowingly identified with what it is we are aware of, we surrender to it and let it possess us, behaving in ways that are all an expression of it. As a result, nothing we do or don’t do can change anything – because everything we do or don’t do is an expression of the very thing we want to change – thus reinforcing it. If, on the other hand, we give ourselves enough time to just ‘abide in’ and ‘be’ the awareness of that thing - identifying with that awareness rather than with the thing we are aware of, then we will find, in time, that the ‘thing’ itself does indeed change.
The New Yoga is thus a meditative, transformative process that leads us from Being Aware of something or other to Being the Awareness of it.
Out of Being Awareness comes a new awareness - new ways of sensing, feeling and thinking the things we are aware of. Out of Being Awareness comes a wholly new and changed awareness of ourselves, other people or life situations and life as such. Out of Being Awareness too, come new ideas about what we can or cannot do – leading us to act in new, more aware and creative ways, ways that are not a self-reinforcing expression of the very things we wish to change - but instead express an already changed way of thinking and feeling them.
Life is action. Action always implies the possibility of choice. Our every choice however, is itself an act – an act of identification with a particular pattern of action. For ‘identity’ itself is made up of patterns of action. Unfree action is unaware action, based not on choice but on unaware identification with particular patterns of action or behaviour. Truly free action on the other hand – freedom itself – is aware action, action that comes from identifying with awareness as such and that is not simply a reaction to things we are aware of. That is why only by making the Fundamental Choice – the choice to identify with awareness as such rather than anything we are aware of – do all our choices become free choices. For awareness is what opens up alternate possibilities and patterns of action, thus allowing us to freely choose our actions.
of any ‘thing’ – a sensation, emotion or thought, behavioural pattern of action
or bodily symptom – is not itself any such thing. Awareness as such is
essentially free of sensations,
impulses, emotions, thoughts etc. That is why the Fundamental Choice to identify
with pure awareness frees us from unaware identification
with anything we are aware of. Yet this
primary identification with awareness also offers us the choice to freely
identify with things – to practice aware identification. For
paradoxically, it is by freely choosing
to identify with things that we come to no longer experience them as
‘things’ at all. If, for example, we choose to identify with a physical symptom
or ‘dis-ease’, we cease to experience it simply as some ‘thing’ we are aware of.
Instead we will begin to experience the symptom
as a ‘state of consciousness’ - a specific felt
quality of awareness. By choosing to
identify with the symptom as a ‘state of consciousness’ or ‘quality of
awareness’, the symptom itself will begin to disappear
as a symptom – as some bothersome
‘thing’ we are aware of. Through aware identification with things we can
experience the reality that everything we are aware
of - not least our own body -
also is an awareness in its own
If you are not
of the way you are thinking, feeling, speaking or acting you cannot
to think, feel, speak or act differently. In other words:
if you are not aware,
you have no choice.
why the Fundamental Choice that each of us can and needs to make is to Be Aware.
For awareness itself automatically expands the range of
we are aware of at any time and in any situation. In this way it automatically
extends our Degree of Freedom. Without identifying with awareness – Being
Awareness - our actions cease to be free choices and become mere reactions to
things we are aware of. With awareness, we become aware not just of ‘how things
are’ but of the countless choices available to us in responding to them. Every
moment of everyday life we are constantly faced with choices – whether to do or
say something or not, whether to do or say one thing or another, whether to do
or say something in one way or in another way etc. All the moment-by-moment
‘micro-choices’ we make - whether to work or rest, eat or drink, move or stay
still, even whether to let a particular thought pass or not, or whether to let
ourselves fully feel a particular feeling or not – affect not only our entire
day but our entire life – and the life beyond that. And it is such
moment-by-moment ‘micro-choices’ that shape the most momentous ‘macro-choices’
of our lives – for example choices to do with relationships, occupation etc.
There are of course certain things we cannot
cannot, for example, choose not to die. But nor, if we want to
live fully and in full freedom, can we
choose not to
That is why
New Yoga is
above all a yoga of
- action that is free because it is not simply an unaware
to things and people but freely chosen in awareness of alternative possible
actions. All the countless meditational practices of
starting with the basic practice of Being Aware, should not be thought of as
effortful ‘disciplines’ but as new types of
we can make - choices that are fundamental to achieving the single most
important aim of ‘Tantra’ - the greatest possible
this life (‘Jivanmukti’) and beyond.
The distinction between
anything we experience or are aware
and the very
is fundamental to
New Yoga. It is
the same as the distinction between objects we are aware of in space and the
emptiness of space itself. Indeed it is the very
relation - since space
as such is essentially nothing ‘objective’ but the subjective space
awareness in which we experience things, both inwardly or outwardly. What
happens however, if people are
to make the Fundamental Distinction between ‘things’ they experience – including
their own thoughts
those things - and the spaces of awareness in which they experience those things
and thoughts? If their sensory or emotional experiences are too intense they may
feel ‘overwhelmed’ by them, or filled to the point of bursting by them - unable
to feel them safely embraced within a larger space of awareness. Alternatively
they may seek to habitually contract the space of their awareness to a narrow
focus, fearing that if their awareness space were expanded if might fill with
things that are ‘too much’ for them - or that they would rather not
be aware of in the first place. Either way, their actions will be a mere
reaction to their experience, and their behaviour an unaware expression of it.
In addition, their thoughts themselves become mere mental interpretations placed
on their experience - rather than the expression of a deeper, more meaningful
and insightful awareness of the things they experience. Indeed they may use
thinking to constantly and obsessively ‘objectify’ their experience – in doing
so turning both themselves and others, both things and thoughts into mere
of their minds. In this way however, they impoverish the rich
their experience, and deprive their thinking itself of richer experiential
sources. Worse still, in doing so they turn
themselves into mere objects of their own mind and intellect, actions and
perceptions, judgements and punishments. Worst of all, they may experience
of other people’s actions and perceptions, thoughts and emotions and turn other
people into mere
of their own.
Awareness has the essential character of the ‘space’, outer and inner, in which we find ourselves - and within which we experience things. ‘Being Awareness’ is attained through ‘Being Space’. This means adopting a basic bodily bearing or ‘Mudra’ traditionally known as ‘Khechari Mudra’. The essence of this Mudra lies in choosing to identify with the seeming emptiness of space rather than anything we are aware of within it. In this way we can pass from an intensified awareness of space as we ordinarily sense it to a profound experience of awareness itself as infinite space.
1. Feel the outer surface of your body as a whole.
2. From that surface sense the entire space around your body.
3. Visualise and feel that space extending infinitely in all directions – above and beneath you, to either side of you, behind you as well as in front of you.
4. Be aware of the seeming emptiness of space as something identical with awareness – being that without which you could not be aware of anything within it.
5. Sense your body surface again, this time visualizing and feeling the insideness of your body as a hollow space
6. Whatever thoughts, feelings or sensations you are aware of within the hollow spaces of your head, chest and abdomen, identify with those spaces themselves rather than anything you experience within them.
7. Experience the sensed inner space of your head, chest and abdomen as one singular inner space or ‘field’ OF awareness.
8. Let your sense of your own body surface dissolve, thus experiencing Awareness AS space - a ‘unified field’ no longer divided into ‘outer and ‘inner’ spaces.
Whenever we have a feeling or thought that could be expressed in such words as ‘I feel this’ or ‘I think that’ - and even if we have no words to describe what we think and feel, the most important words missing are not simply those that would allow us to say what we think and feel. The first and most important words missing are unspoken words, a silent mantra. Were they to be spoken the words of this Silent Mantra would be “I am aware of … ”.
If all we wordlessly experience or express in words is the sense that ‘I think this’ or ‘I feel that’, in effect we are identifying ourselves with our thoughts and feelings. Similarly, if all we wordlessly experience or express in words is a thought or feeling about someone or some thing, then those thoughts and feelings so much focus our awareness on that thing or person that we cease to be aware of them as thoughts and feelings. In effect, then we are identifying our thoughts and feelings about reality with reality.
The Silent Mantra is
the wordless awareness that would go together with saying to ourselves words
such as the following:
thinking this”, “I
feeling that” - or
am aware of
having this thought or feeling about this thing or that person.” The mantra is
fundamental in helping us (1) not to
own thoughts and feelings, and (2) not to identity those thoughts and feelings
reality. The words of the Silent Mantra work in an even deeper way - helping us
to distinguish between
anything we are
aware of -
whether a thought or feeling, sensation or emotion, conception or perception,
word or mental image - from our
of it - and our
wordless awareness too of whatever it is that the thought or feeling, sensation
or emotion, conception or perception, image or word - actually expresses. That
is why the unspoken words of the silent mantra -
am aware of …”
are the first and most important words along
The Way of
why they are also the
of this Way – of all that can
be attained through
Yoga of Awareness.
Being-in-Awareness is Being-in-Silence. Being-in-Silence means staying or dwelling - ‘being’ - within that silence. Similarly, identifying with inner silence – being silence - is the principal way of Being Awareness. Being Silence does not mean Being Silent all the time. BEING SILENT is nevertheless the most basic way of giving ourselves TIME TO BE AWARE - the way we call listening. Time given to Listening in inner silence – both to ourselves and others – is time given to Awareness.
“Not knowing how to listen, neither can they speak.”
BEING AWARE of silence means listening into the silence out of which all our thoughts first arise and take shape. If we do not listen in this way before we speak, we do not really speak at all – for our words do not re-sound from depths of silent awareness but become mere unaware expressions of our immediate or past experience. That is why, for most people, ‘listening’ is merely a brief prelude to speech in which they prepare to express their thoughts in words – but without any awareness of where they are coming from and what they are really expressing or saying with them. In speaking they identify with their mental words and inner voices and not with their silent source. In particular, they remain unaware of the way in which both what they experience and the way they think and speak about it are coloured by the underlying ‘mood’ or inner ‘tone’ of their experience – by tones of silence which are essentially TONES OF awareness itself.
In The New Yoga on the other hand, listening is not just a prelude to speech. It is the principal way of giving ourselves more TIME TO BE AWARE of all that we are experiencing and of the ways we are thinking about or giving expression to it. Listening, in other words, is the specific ‘yoga’ or discipline of sustaining, staying and dwelling in inner silence – of BEING IN SILENCE and thereby BEING-IN-AWARENESS.
“In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness.” Mahatma Ghandi
not imply the cessation of all thought or mental ‘noise’. Instead it is what
allows us to
listen inwardly before
we speak, thereby
hearing our own
thoughts, even before or without expressing them, as
- inner words, speech or voices. These are what give shape to the inner
TONES OF SILENCE – those
tones of awareness that
colour and are coloured by our experience. Like any audible sounds or voice
tones they can have countless sensuous qualities - brightness or darkness,
warmth or coolness, sharpness or dullness, lightness or heaviness, softness or
hardness, flatness or depth, dissonance or resonance. Such
TONES OF SILENCE – of
- can also be either
clear and translucent, coloured and textured, or simply muddied. Through staying
SILENCE - through
‘listening’ we give ourselves
TIME TO BE AWARE,
and to stay in awareness. Only from the most
inner silence however,
can we open up a
clear space of awareness.
It is only within this clear space of
inner silence opened up
by our listening that we can
hear our own thoughts
taking shape as
inner sounds, becoming
aware of them as mental words and voices before - or instead of - speaking them.
It allows us to beware –
‘be-aware’ - of how our
‘inner speech’ might be shaping, colouring, muddying or totally obscuring the
translucent clarity and openness of our
inner silence, and with
it, our awareness.
is sustained and restored through sustaining or restoring a
Translucent Inner Silence.
Within the open translucency of inner silence not only thoughts but things
themselves can become more vividly ‘audible’ to our inner hearing. For things
Just as we can get to
know people more deeply by listening from a place of translucent
uncluttered by our own thoughts
– not only to their
speech but to the inner tone of their silences, so can we enhance our awareness
of things by opening our hearing to
“On the path to higher knowledge, the listening skill is extremely important. We must become accustomed to listening in such a way that we quiet our own inner life completely when we listen. Once we are practiced in listening in this way … we begin to learn how to unite ourselves with the being of the other person and fully enter into it. We begin to hear through the words, into the other person’s soul.
As we consistently practice this new habit, sound becomes the medium through which we can perceive soul and spirit … Then a new sense of hearing comes to life in the soul. The soul becomes capable of hearing “words” from the spiritual world that are not expressed in outer tones and cannot be heard by physical ears. Perception of the “inner word” awakens. Truths are gradually revealed to us out of the spiritual world. We hear ourselves spoken to spiritually.
Whatever we hear from the lips of true spiritual researchers is only what they have brought into experience in this way.”
The Foundation Meditation of The New Yoga can be practiced alone, at any time and in any place or situation, as many times and for as long a time as possible - until the practice of Being Aware, Being-in-Awareness, and Being Awareness becomes ‘second nature’ to you – through the most basic practices of BEING SILENT and BEING-IN-SILENCE. To begin with you may find it more effective to engage in the meditation jointly with others - for any length of time from five minutes to an hour. Yet there is also a much deeper meaning to engaging in the Foundation Meditation as a joint meditation. That meaning is expressed by the saying: “Where two or more are gathered in my name, I will be there.” For the “I” in question is that Self in all of us (whether symbolised by Jesus or Buddha, Brahman or Shiva) which does not ‘have’ awareness but is Awareness - and is therefore a portion of the Divine Awareness that is God. Since it IS awareness, that Self is also united to the Selves of all others through awareness – through the ‘Holy Spirit’. By conducting the Foundation Meditation in the co-presence of others, each is graced by that Spirit – by that Divine Awareness which embraces all things and beings and is present within each as its Silent Source and Source in Silence.
GUIDE TO THE NEW YOGA FOUNDATION MEDITATION
Note: If engaging in the Foundation Meditation as a joint meditation, always do so with explicit intent, at an agreed time and for a mutually agreed period of time.
1. Take time to become aware of your body surface as a whole, and use it to sense the entire space around your body.
2. Take time to be aware of different things you sense and perceive in the space around your body - but in such a way as to maintain awareness of that space as a whole – both the space around that object and around your body.
3. Keeping your eyes open and continuing to sense the space around your body, sense the inwardness of your body too as a spacious inwardness - uniting the sensed inner spaces of your head, chest, belly and lower abdomen.
4. Be aware of anything you sense within those inner body spaces – whether thoughts arising in your head space, sensuous textures of feeling or intensities of emotion, felt needs or desires, or muscular impulses to act or speak.
5. Be aware primarily of your immediate bodily sense of each and every thing you are aware of sensing both within and around you - from the sensory qualities of things and people, to thoughts that arise in your head space, or anything you sense in your chest, belly and abdominal spaces.
6. Sensing the spaces within and around your body at the same time, begin to feel them as one singular field or space of awareness and identify with that UNIFIED FIELD OF AWARENESS as a whole.
7. Let your awareness wander freely between different things you are aware of within this spacious field of awareness and let new things arise within this field – but without losing your awareness of the spacious field as a whole, or letting it get lost in any one thing or thought you are aware of within it.
Time to Be Aware.
All the time one needs
To feel what is there, and more -
To be aware of all there is to be aware of.
To recall distinct events, and differentiate
The feelings they have left us with.
To let the many threads of our life
Disentangle in our Field
To freely shift our
Focus of awareness
From one hot spot to another,
Without ceasing for a second to
BE that awareness, to abide in and
Identify with The Free Awareness Field,
That Field which has no fixed Focus
And thus frees us from Fixation
On any thing or thought,
Any person or problem,
Event or emotion.
Freely following that
Rhythmic flow of Awareness,
That lets us move between feeling
Something there, in its spacious field,
Sensing where we feel it in our bodies.
And feeling ourselves into it, but then also
Feeling the free space all around it, and the
Space surrounding our body as whole - that
Infinite Field of Free Awareness, from and
Within which - as which - we move
Rhythmically into and out of our
Finite self and body.
The feelings evoked by a ‘tragic’
piece of music are nothing ‘negative’, however negatively we might label them in
words. Just as there is no such thing as a ‘negative’ musical tone or chord, so
there is no such thing as a ‘negative’ feeling or emotion. Anything we feel as
‘negative’ is in essence something we seek to limit or
negate a full and intense
awareness of. We do so out of
fear and the false belief that affirming ‘negativity’ is ‘negative thinking’.
This fear is misplaced for many reasons. For one thing, to intentionally
affirm our awareness of anything
– even so-called ‘negative’ feelings - is by its nature a
positive act. Secondly, our
awareness of a thought or feeling is not
itself a thought or feeling, ‘positive’ or ‘negative’. Positively
affirming that awareness therefore, does not bind us to ‘negative feelings’ but
is the very act that frees us
from identification with them. Thirdly, ‘negative’ feelings are there to point
us to problematic or limiting aspects of our reality that we need to face and
find new ways to respond to. “The wise man points at the moon. The fool looks at
the finger.” If our awareness becomes fixated on the feelings as such we become
like this proverbial ‘fool’ - failing to see the difficult or limiting aspects
of our own or other people’s reality that they are pointing us to. This in turn
limits our capacity to act positively in response to these difficulties. The
alternative to becoming fixated on or identified with ‘negative’ feelings is not
to negate our awareness of them,
but instead to positively affirm
that awareness - to feel and follow those feelings to what they are pointing us
to in ourselves or others. The awareness with which we do so can then become a
pointer in itself – a source of fresh insights into our own or other people’s
difficulties, pointing us to new directions we can follow and new decisions we
can take in relation to them. A most important variation of THE NEW YOGA
the practice of giving ourselves
time to be aware of all that there is be aware of - ‘positive’ or
‘negative’ - is therefore to intentionally use it to
Meditate the negative. That means
granting time, whenever we feel a strong or generalised ‘negativity’, to
make an inventory of that negativity
- starting from our immediate bodily
sense of it as ‘stress’ or ‘depression’ for example, and exploring this to then
identify and intensify - one by one - all the different emotions that have
‘coagulated’ into it. That way they can point us to events or aspects of our
lives we have not yet given enough awareness to – an awareness out of which will
come all the ‘pointers’ we need.
The two ‘Foundation Stones’ of The New Yoga of Awareness are The Fundamental Distinction (between awareness as such and anything we are aware of) and The Fundamental Choice – either to identify with things we are aware of, or to identify with the pure awareness of them.
Experiencing The Fundamental Distinction is essential to exercising The Fundamental Choice. It can be explained by ‘comparing’ pure awareness with the clear spaces (outer and inner) within which we experience things. But it can only be truly experienced through intensified bodily awareness of space itself, inner and outer. For only through that enhanced bodily awareness of space (achieved through awareness of our body surface) can space itself be experienced as the spacious field of pure awareness – not just a useful analogy for it.
Many people say that though they understand the Foundation Stones, and whilst they are often or sometimes able to feel or identify with pure awareness, to sustain awareness through the day appears to them like an almost impossible challenge. For at other times they still find themselves letting go of all round spatial awareness, losing themselves in trains of thought, identifying with emotions, acting or speaking impulsively etc. etc. To which I say: go back to the first Foundation Stone - the Fundamental Distinction - and apply it TO the very difficulties you are experiencing. Don’t say to me “It’s very hard”, “I still lose myself in trains or thought” or “I still get identified with my emotions”, or “I still react impulsively” etc. Say to yourself “I am now aware of thinking or feeling ‘it’s all very hard’, “I am now aware of losing myself in this train of thought, identifying with this emotion or reacting impulsively in this way.” Being aware of experiencing such ‘difficulties’, you can then make ‘meta-level’, ‘reflexive’ or ‘iterative’ use of the Foundation Stones – distinguishing the very awareness of those difficulties from the difficulties themselves, and choosing to identify with that awareness and not the difficulties. Without this ‘iterative’ application of the Fundamental Distinction and Choice to the very difficulties experienced in sustaining awareness, no one can do so continuously. It is through my own application of these Foundations Stones to the difficulties that I – like others - face in sustaining awareness through The New Yoga that I also find subtle new ways of experiencing the Fundamental Distinction and exercising the Fundamental Choice. This iterative use of the two Foundation Stones is thus in effect a hidden, third Foundation Stone – yet one essential to the success of the other two. Indeed this ‘third’ Foundation Stone is the basis on which I myself constantly gain – out of awareness of my own and other people’s difficulties – new insights into all those Foundational principles and practices of awareness which are ‘The New Yoga’.
Your awareness of the space around your body is not itself something bounded by your body surface. And yet it is itself a bodily awareness. Similarly, your bodily awareness of land, sea and sky does not end at the boundaries of your body but reaches to the very horizon of any landscape, seascape or skyscape you behold. Your bodily sense and feeling for the colours of a landscape, the glow of a sunset sky, or the undulations of the sea, is not something locked up inside your head or brain. Nor is your bodily awareness of an indoor space, and your tangible sense of the other bodies within it – both objects and people – something bounded by your own body. Even your ‘mind’ is part of your bodily awareness, being a space of awareness in a part of your body – your head - within which you experience thoughts arising and passing away. The body has always played a central role in Tantric symbolism. That is not because the body was seen as the biological basis of awareness or ‘consciousness’, but because “the body is an awareness” (Carlos Castaneda). Being so, its only boundaries are boundaries OF awareness.
Traditional Tantric teachings
recognised that awareness, like space itself, is essentially bodiless and
unbounded, and yet at the same time takes on an infinite variety of bodily
shapes and forms - physical and non-physical, natural, human and divine. These
bodily shapes appear bounded from the outside, but since every body
is an awareness, like awareness
as such, they are essentially unbounded.
Yoga of Awareness is above all
a yoga of
Awareness, recognising that the
body is not simply some bodily object or ‘thing’ we are
of, but a bodily shape, tone
and texture OF
Awareness, though bodiless, is nothing but awareness
bodies and of bodyhood. Awareness itself - ‘spirit’ - is what ‘bodies’ itself in
different shapes and forms.
Awareness therefore means
Awareness of ourselves, other
people and the world.
awareness in turn is the key to
AWARENESS, learning to give it
active bodily expression in our every word and deed, look and gesture, movement
How much of my body as a whole am I aware of right now?
How aware am I of my entire upper body above the waist?
How aware am I of the contact of my feet with the ground beneath me, of my legs, belly and entire lower body below the waist?
Which regions of my body can I choose to become more aware of in order to become more aware of more of myself as whole?
How aware am I of my head and body surface as a whole?
How aware am I of the entire space all around my body surface?
How far can I feel my awareness extending into that space in all directions?
To what extent can I feel the entire space around me as a space of awareness - one that surround and embraces not only my own body but every other body around me?
How much inner space do I feel within my sensed body surface?
How much do I feel this space as a free space of awareness?
How much clear and uncrowded inner awareness space do I feel within my head, chest and belly respectively?
To what extent do I feel the inner awareness spaces of my head, chest and abdomen as one singular space of awareness?
Where do I feel my awareness of myself concentrated or centred in the sensed inner spaces of my body?
How far can I allow my awareness to descend from my inner head space to that of my chest, belly and lower abdomen?
How far up above my head and down below the ground can I allow my awareness to rise or descend?
To what degree does my face, posture and body language as a whole give full expression to my bodily self-awareness and to all that I sense in the body spaces within and around me?
How aware am I of another person as ‘some-body’ and not just a ‘talking head’ - of their faces, eyes, posture and breathing?
To what degree can I sense, with and within my own body, the degree and expanse of another person’s bodily self-awareness, through the way it finds expression in their body language?